Those 15 weeks sure did fly by, didn't they? And as usual, everything ended with the Peninsula District bringing home the state championship trophy.
For the 11th time in the last 15 years, a team from the PD won the Group AAA Division 5 title. And for the second time in a row -- the fifth time this decade -- it was Phoebus.
Let's revisit the 2009 season ... and it's never too early to look ahead to '10, is it?
Fans and media members are quick to throw around the word "dynasty," often when it doesn't apply. But this time, there can be no doubt. Having won its fifth Group AAA Division 5 championship this decade, Phoebus is a legitimate dynasty.
To put the Phantoms' accomplishment in historical perspective, only one other team in VHSL history has won five titles in the same decade (Hampton in the 1980s). Since Y2K, Phoebus has gone 120-12 for a winning percentage of .909. No other Group AAA school has won more than 102 games or more than one championship in the 2000s.
"That's a credit to the coaches and players," said coach Stan Sexton, who in his first year guided the Phantoms to their second consecutive 15-0 season. "They want to win, and they know nothing but how to win. That's all they ever cared about."
Sexton was around for the start of Phoebus' roll as an assistant in the early 2000s. He missed the championships in 2006 and '08 when he was head coach at Warwick. But when he was hired to replace Bill Dee last spring, he promised few changes.
"I wanted to keep everything the same and keep that tradition and that comfortableness going," he said. "I think I put a lot more pressure on myself to win than the general public did. But I felt like the kids could do it again. And it was a major thing to come in and win."
The Phantoms kept winning — even if they didn't always look pretty doing it. Exactly one-third of their 15 victories were decided by five points or fewer. Two went to overtime. Another was won on a field goal with nine seconds left in regulation.
Phoebus' last two wins had little to do with aesthetics. In what amounted to a mud-wrestling match at Darling Stadium two weeks ago, Phoebus beat Hanover 10-7 in the semifinals. In last Saturday's final, the Phantoms were dominated in the statistics, but beat Stone Bridge 15-10.
Last year, as the Phantoms have been constantly reminded, was different. The average victory margin was 45 points. The roster included four players who signed with BCS conference colleges.
This year, with little star power or explosiveness on offense, Phoebus had to work harder to get it done.
"Nowadays, it's not winning, it's how you win," Sexton said. "Everybody wants a 60-point win because nobody wants to stress over a white-knuckle game. That just wasn't our team this year.
"We didn't have a superstar on the team — Colby (Goodwyn) was as close as we had. But like the Miami Dolphins in 1972, we had a bunch of no-names who just came out and won every day."
Since losing to Stone Bridge in the 2007 state semifinals, Phoebus has won 30 straight games. The state record is 40 (Hampton, 1995-98). So if the Phantoms run the table once more, No. 41 would come in the first round of the Eastern Region playoffs.
Sexton isn't making predictions, but he sees no reason why Phoebus can't keep rolling. Eric Enderson, who set a district record with 12 field goals this season, will take over for Paul Morant at quarterback. Goodwyn's replacement will be Tyree Lee, who ran for 507 yards as the backup.
End Daquan Romero, maybe the best defensive player in the state, is back. So are linebacker Caleb Taylor, who played only two games this year before injuring his knee, and Justin Lyles.
"It's going to be interesting," Sexton said. "I think we can possibly be as good as we were this year."
And that would make for an even longer dynasty.
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